Friday, December 30, 2016


First, it was that the military said they had to approach "Camp Zero" from the ground and not from the air because Boko Haram insurgents were using their captives as human shield. Then of course, after critics voiced concern about how not even a single shot was fired according to reports, before "Sambisa" was overrun, they kind of recanted stating initially, that several members of the deadly group have surrendered, not to the Nigerian military but Nigérienne in the border town of Diffa. That also didn't sound right, so the claim that several members of Boko Haram, sympathizers and more hostages were rounded up in the takeover of the dreaded group's operational base, by the military came to be the new kite that was flown. And to prove to us that it's no joke, a Qur'an purportedly belonging to Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau and a black flag with the group's insignia, said to be the one in front of which he shoots most of his videos, was put on display by the sector commander, like that was going to make Shekau fall down and die wherever he is.

True to type, as we have repeatedly seen, since the war against this Islamic  Fundamentalist group started, especially since Abubakar Shekau took over the reins of power, a video of him surfaced, in which he (in Hausa and Arabic) denounced claims by the military of the defeat of his group, stating that he and members of his group are safe. Predictably, the military were quick to come out in condemnation of the latest video, calling it propaganda materia in a bid to cast a doubt on the veracity of the tape, especially as regards when it was shot, like they'd ever been proved right when they made assertions like that in the past. Even those who were carried away by news of a possible end to the insurgency with the declaration of victory by the military this Christmas season, are now like those who felt the celebration was hasty from onset, once the video hit the usual social media outlets.


I personally feel that the military should've been the ones tempering the populace' eagerness to see an end to the group, even if Shekau had been killed. Somalia's Al-Shabab has severally lost leaders yet the group is far from decimation, even with foreign assistance to the Somali government, talk more a situation where the nomination of another by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS (to whom Boko Haram pledged allegiance) had done nothing to water down Shekau's influence, nor the several attempts at killing him, making the discerning begin to wonder if he's not enjoying some kind of protection from those who have been charged with the responsibility of putting him down.

Another issue which the happenings of the last few days have exhumed is that of the other Chibok girls supposedly still in Boko Haram captivity. There are fears that they may never again be seen, or at least not anymore in that number that made up the more than two hundred often bandied as the number of students abducted two years ago (except that in itself was grossly exaggerated as part of some conspiracy, as is speculated in some quarters). The back and forth concerning them have continued to fuel conspiracies in some certain quarters, of how all these may have been orchestrated by prominent personalities in Nigeria's northern region in a bid to recover power from then President Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner and to retain such thereafter, even far beyond a Buhari presidency, for which reason a Shekau alive, or the Boko Haram group or its like remaining formidable despite losses, remain an enticing proposition, as they could easily be activated as and at when needed, regardless of the harm it does to Nigeria's military and intelligence services.

As it is, Shekau and Boko Haram are not indispensable if the same forces (according to conspiracy theorists) are behind the killings in the north-central and southern states of Nigeria, put at the doorstep of militant Fulani herdsmen, which a recent report by an international terror watchdog, claim are one of the deadliest in the world, a claim further substantiated by Kaduna's Governor El-Rufai (a Fulani as well) when he went outside of Nigeria to pay Fulani of neighbouring countries some money so they stop killing Nigerians, as well as incriminating statements by leaders of the group to the effect that their murderous activities akin to genocide, because of its systematic pattern, is due to the penchant of farmers and farming communities in the affected areas of killing cattle which had encroached upon their farmlands. The systematic nature of the attacks in the religious and ethnic composition of those attacked, killed and/or displaced, suggest something far more organized, and possibly with the blessing of those in power or those close to them because of the impunity with which the acts are committed. One wonders what one is to think, when President Buhari said nothing after he was a no-show to events in the Niger Delta severally, to Enugu in the southeast last week, or even to Lagos months back; whose media aide said he needn't make a  statement about killings of Christians and animists in southern Kaduna over the Christmas weekend (having in the past reluctantly made one over the killings in Benue and Enugu states after wide criticisms greeted his silence months back), but on missing a scheduled visit to Bauchi in the northeast due to poor visibility owing to the harmattan haze (to which obsolete equipments, and poor navigational aids at Nigeria's airports had no answer to), he shoot a video, apologizing to the people of Bauchi in Hausa language, something the 5% in the south-south and southeast couldn't get, even in English.


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Tuesday, December 27, 2016


It was a rather long Christmas weekend and holiday for me, as with typical Nigerian to make up in weekdays the holidays that fall within the weekend. I spent much of the time indoors, before the TV (when "NEPA" permitted) and my phone and I mention this because of the different things that both media focused on, as the days passed and how that influenced how people reacted especially on social media, if you could gauge people's feelings from there as I routinely do. Except in a few spots, celebrations was largely low key, though I cannot say if that accounted for what I hear was the total absent of queues for fuel at the various filling stations in Lagos, a clear departure from what was obtainable in the past, for which the vuvuzelas of the party in power have rushed to declare as part of the change promised, without considering the possibility of a lack of disposable income (with all the trouble associated with collecting money from banks and ATMs that was the face of Nigeria last week), for that state of affairs.

Beside stories associated with Christmas celebrations, nationwide and internationally, one news the media covered in Nigeria was the takeover of the Sambisa forest from the Islamic  fundamentalist group, Boko Haram with the army chief declaring that the area will be turned into a military training base. Like sugar, this news item invited like ants, reactions from various sides and shades of the Nigerian polity. Those by whom the government could never do wrong simply jumped into celebratory mode despite the fact that there wasn't much in terms of video evidence to support the so called capture of "Camp Zero" (more like the operational base of the group) of Sambisa forest (apparently without news of a single shot fired, or arrests of insurgents or release of more Chibok girls abducted more than two years ago), in an age where picture and video is everything. The opposition People's Democratic Party, PDP while congratulating the president and the military for a job well done, was quick to remind all who cared to listen that the foundation for the military success of today was laid back when they were in  government, pointing to the continuous use of military hardware purchased by that government as largely instrumental to the present military gains.


As if to remind us that the storming of Camp Zero may best be described as merely symbolic, as the group (as most terrorist groups are) remain amorphous, a female suicide bomber detonated her "wares" at the Kasuwan Shanu (cattle market) in Maiduguri, Borno State, while the other whose explosive vest failed to detonate was

arrested by security forces, the day after the "fall of Sambisa". Thankfully, no one save the suicide bomber died. Interestingly, news of this victory came just days after pictures of soldiers appeared to hold hostage a crew of a military helicopter that had just brought them supplies, days after a video surfaced of soldiers in the theater of war dying from thirst and starvation, but was roundly denounced by the Nigerian military echelon as fabricated since it was mainly circulated on social media and sources unverifiable. But when you match the so called "truths" by the military, and the All Progressives' Congress, APC-led  government in power, with the reality on ground, from the citizen/soldiers' independent videos on YouTube and interacting with those on ground, coupled with the antecedents of a government that came to power on the strength of lies, propaganda and false promise, it makes you want to question the veracity of the so called takeover of the notorious forest (which in actual fact, is more desert, than forest) by the Nigerian military, which you'd sincerely hope should be true, as the negative consequences of that been a lie could be better imagined especially seeing how in recent times officers as high as lieutenant colonels have lost their lives in ambushes and tales of mutinies hushed, as in the case of the many deaths of the "cat with nine lives", Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau.

What the news about the capture of Sambisa's Camp Zero, and the reactions surrounding it couldn't bury, especially on social media, despite intentional repetitions be mainstream media, especially government owned and biased privately owned ones, was the act of genocide that was ongoing, even till Christmas Day, in southern Kaduna populated by mainly Christians and animists compared to the Muslim northern part, with several killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen, despite heavy security deployed in that area by the government led by a Fulani, Governor El-Rufai whose sympathies to the Fulani expansionist cause has been well documented over the years, from the time he said killing a Fulani is a debt that must be repaid, to recently going as far as outside of the country to pay Fulani in the West African region (with state funds) in a bid to persuade them to stop invading Nigeria and particularity his state, seeing that "one of them" is now in power there, and then turning around to blame militants in the Niger Delta of masquerading as Fulani herdsmen to kill the people of southern Kaduna because he couldn't fathom the killings been perpetrated by the "terrorists" he had just paid a huge sum to (in ransom) for the lives of the people of his state.

Not even his visit to the President, another Fulani for increased military presence in the state would stop the killings, as it looked like the curfew imposed on three of the affected local governments in southern Kaduna, was a ploy to keep the people indoors, to make their slaughter by the suspected Fulani herdsmen hitch-free and of maximum effect, as the military were conveniently just nowhere to be seen on the occasions these men with dark hearts stormed the various villages, especially Goska to wreak wanton destruction on lives and property of the people they were constitutionally mandated to serve and protect.

Unfortunately, going by the tone of the presidential media aide, Mr. Femi Adesina who said there was no need for the presidency to comment on happenings in southern Kaduna (even though the president personally visited Zamfara to launch a military operation against cattle rustlers), since it deemed the governor capable of handling matters in its domain, anyone expecting that there would be a "State of Emergency" declared in Kaduna is dreaming. Unlike in the very "peaceful southeast", where President Buhari's body language to the "five percent" has resurrected secessionist ideals by unarmed protesters, has led to "OPERATION PYTHON DANCE" (Nigeria's military and crazy operation titles though), that did nothing but make life difficult for most easterners that traveled to the homeland for Christmas celebrations. The same president had to hide under a ridiculous excuse not to attend a summit for the southeast held in Enugu, after the pro-Biafran group threatened him, like those in the Niger Delta did months back and he failed to attend the launch of the oil-spill cleanup operation in Ogoniland, making the phrase, Commander-In-Chief of The Armed Forces sound like a joke, except if the truth of the matter is that he doesn't give a hoot about the people of the southeast, and of course the Niger Deltans, except of course their oil and gas.

The posture of the military, like the president also seem to favour cattle, as the military chief recently intimated Nigerians of plans to set up ranches in military formations nationwide, claiming to have sent some officers to Argentina to learn the tricks of the trade, making most discerning Nigerians suspect that it's another ploy by the government in power, pursuing a Fulani herdsmen agenda primarily, to introduce, activate and implement to the latter, bits of the roundly condemned, "grazing (at the heart of herdsmen killing of innocent villagers and destruction of farming communities, from the north-central region of Nigeria to the south) bill" especially in Nigeria's southern region. All of these and more occupied my mind during the holidays, making food and drinks bland, and thoughts of the future of and for Nigeria scary to imagine, despite the not too inspiring Christmas messages by the president and other politicians, as they are wont to do at this time of the year, to applause of the gullible, hangers on, and those who just don't want anything to spoil their celebrations, in spite of genocide happening somewhere else in the country where hopefully they have no relatives residing or affected directly or indirectly. I choose to feel differently.




Many years ago in a small village in one of the world's most obscure regions, a man named Kush was approached by his friend Gadar (with whom he'd been friends since childhood), for help. The latter was having it rough with making ends meet, as he was hardly ever paid by the man whose land he toils on. The man would either find an excuse, or altogether say nothing to him when the time comes for him to be paid, eventually either not paying him, or paying him a fraction of his wage's due. When he related his ordeal to his friend Kush, the latter felt pity towards him and was determined to help him in any way he could, even though he wasn't a wealthy person himself.

Kush didn't have a land of his own, but he wasn't employed to work on landowner's farms like Gadar. He had an arrangement where he worked people's farms for a share of the proceeds which he then went on to sell at the produce markets. From the much he makes, he had been able to buy donkeys which he gives out to small scale merchants who go ahead to make returns to him over a certain period,  after which they then become owners of the donkeys. Gadar was aware of this but asked Kush for help to set up something similar though on a larger scale, saying he'd studied how the business works and promised greater yield in returns for Kush if only his friend could help him acquire a camel, in order to move goods from one town to the other, even to the farthest recesses of the known world at the time.

Kush's eyes widened with excitement when Gadar presented him with the mouthwatering proposal, he was very excited at the prospect and possibility. He'd always admired the riders of the camels, wondering how much they'd be making their owners. It had been a dream of his to one day progress from owning a few donkeys to owning a camel(s), and he saw that opportunity in providing help for his friend, only that he didn't have the  wherewithal to buy one. Despite his lack of capacity, Kush was undaunted in his task of getting a camel for Gadar, he visited some of his other friends who were better off, for a loan or with an option to be part owners of his new business venture. He got turned down by a few who he thought could help, but felt they either didn't believe in him enough, or thought his idea was ridiculous and farfetched, while some had excuses mostly genuine not to oblige him. He still managed to find other friends who keyed into his dream and helped him make up the much needed to avail Gadar enough to procure a lightly advanced in years camel that had served a few years as a beast of burden.

He surmised that subsequently, with proceeds from that and his other engagements he'd be able to acquire a studier camel, but for now this should do. Because of the condition the camel was in at the time it was redeemed, Gadar took it to the village's animal carer, that will pass as a vet in our time. But Kush didn't hear from Gadar for a while after, even though he was aware that the camel had since left the animal infirmary, as he was the one who paid the animal carer. When he eventually saw Gadar, he was told that the lack of communication had been due to arrangements he was making to put the camel to work and that soon he will begin to meet the end of his bargain.

It turned out that Gadar wasn't making any concrete arrangement, and the bit he tried wasn't successful, such that when Kush heard about it he still took it upon himself to make the necessary connections on behalf of Gadar just to ensure that his friend started up. It was like marrying a wife for a friend, and also helping him fulfill his conjugal obligations. Kush was glad that he could help bring his friend back to his feet, while hoping the latter will generously reciprocate his gesture by fulfilling his end of the bargain, by remitting a part of the proceeds to him, till such a time as they both agreed, that the camel will pass on to Gadar.

Days passed. Weeks passed, and though Kush was aware that Gadar was using the camel for the purpose it was meant, he wasn't getting his due, then much later Gadar started paying but it was far below the agreed sum, the days of excuses far more than the days when something, always short of the agreed sum was actually paid. Within months Kush was beginning to see his investment in the camel as bad business, but he kept up faith in his friend who continued to feed him excuses from the believable to the most ridiculous, just in a bid not to remit him his due, even on one occasion where he accompanied Gadar on his trip, and he saw how much was paid to haul goods, yet he was given nothing once the goods were delivered, nor days after when time was yet again ripe for delivery.

You can imagine how frustrated and angry Kush was, when about six months into the operation, Gadar visited Kush, who was expecting that some good news was about to come his way that evening, only to learn that the camel broke its leg in the last journey and the injury was so bad that it couldn't be moved from that location back to their village. Kush was further infuriated by the fact that Gadar also asked for aid to help him repatriate the camel back to the village like he was entitled to such an aid, and wondered where that was to come from.  At a time his "venture of help" had almost bankrupted him, and he was finding it difficult to meet up with his numerous obligations, also to those through which the now injured camel was acquired. He was too stunned by the turn of events to speak, that he couldn't immediately respond to Gadar's request.

Gadar left a dumbfounded Kush that night for his abode, and avoided him for the weeks following that visit. Kush, not willing to give up even on a bad deal would once a while inquire about the status of the wounded camel and Gadar would offhandedly tell him that he hadn't raised the means to retrieve it from where it was last taken. It took another two months for Gadar to eventually repatriate the camel, only to dump it at the animal infirmary in their village. Seeing that if left to Gadar alone that animal will die, so also so what he'd put in, including the hopes of several others who believed in him, Kush took it upon himself to restore the beast of burden, once again with the help of those who were kind enough to enable it in the first place. He marshaled out a plan to ensure that he avoided the mistakes of the past, as the wounds of the camel was tended to at such great a cost, for which Gadar never showed interest, nor offered any form of apology. That was how Kush learnt in a very hard way that, "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished".



Sunday, December 25, 2016


Two weeks ago, I attended the end of year party of my village union in Lagos, and as usual members came with their families, even friends. The party started as in the afternoon with prayers, I came in to meet a member praying the kind of firebrand prayers that you'd often see with Pentecostals, you know, the type that's quite physical and hysterical, with shouting and gesturing, and even though I was seated in front because of my position in the union alongside other members of the executive, I wasn't intimidated by looks from those compliant with prayer directives to put my hand on my head or elsewhere, or raise my hands to make one prayer point or another, in response to this pastor-member who said "finally" more than four times before bringing the prayer session to an end. As if the chairman felt that the prayer may not be received in some parts of heaven, he asked another pastor member to summarize the prayers, who this time with a low voice and calm mien, helped the plane to touch down.

Prayers made by pastors was quickly followed by the breaking of Kola, by the chairman, secretary and another member of the high table, who took turns to pray for the health of all those present, as well as members who couldn't make it, to which we all responded with "Ìseeeeee", on the various occasions. In previous years, we didn't have a compere take charge of the end of year party, so when this young man came up to handle the "mic" while food and drinks made their way to the tables, I joined others present to see what he had up his sleeves. He was totally uninspiring, had dry jokes, made no effort to endear himself to the "strong men" present, even if with the intention to milk some "change" off them by massaging their easy to rouse egos, rather he went about disrespecting them at the slightest opportunity he got. So much so that they turned to the DJ to cut him off, and continue to play just music, and that state of affairs prevailed for a while.

But the MC wasn't going to take that lying low, he picked up the mic again, got the DJ to cut the music, and after the high table people extracted a promise from him to be courteous he was once again allowed to do his job. This time he wanted kids to come play games for prizes which he had packed in a bag. The game was such that the kid who had mastery of Igbo will go home with the prize. I began to sense trouble here, seeing that been born and bred in Lagos I couldn't until a few years back, speak the Igbo language and still not even fluently at that, and I'm edging closer to my fourth decade on earth. I learnt to speak Yoruba and English before Igbo and I know that it's even worse with today's Igbo kids born and bred in Lagos.

The kids of course didn't disappoint, many of them couldn't say their names in a sentence in Igbo language. They were certainly worse than I was at their age. They didn't know the name of their village, neither could the majority make a simple sentence in the Igbo language, the only girl who did, and knew the name of her village amongst other sundry, wasn't even from our village but was on holidays with the family that had brought her to our end of year party. Now, this was the last straw that broke the camel's back for the MC, as he started berating the children who couldn't speak the mother tongue, even directly casting aspersions on their parents. I'd excused myself to go take a leak at a nearby gutter away from the location of the party, in order to relieve my bladder of the stout that was about to burst it, which seemed apart from the semovita and bitter leaf soup, the best things that was happening to me at the party, only to find the MC been hassled out of the venue by some of the men at the gathering on my return. Apparently, the parents must've had enough of his shenanigans and would rather see the back of his head than continue to stomach the shit he was spewing at them.

I couldn't care less, I'd thought he was a mistake right from onset, especially when he failed to use the opportunity provided him to kiss arses and make himself some cool dough, but he went totally in the opposite direction, even to the extreme at that and he deservedly got what was coming to him. So the party continued without him, wining, dining, feasting and dancing. Kids were organized to dance and
each of them got a prize, then the adults danced, drank (so much alcohol), then packed excess food home in takeaway packs afterwards, thus we ended the year on a somewhat happy note, post-the crazy compere.

On my way home however, I reflected on what had happened, and was deeply saddened by the fact that our children couldn't speak our language. I was self taught, which is why I don't speak my exact Igbo dialect but what you might term "Lagos Igbo", the only time I appear to speak a better Igbo is when I read it, and I do write less excellently though, because of my deep understanding of the Yoruba which isn't too different from the Igbo both in reading and writing (I have a good WAEC result in Yoruba, in the days when "expo" or "orijo" wasn't a thing, to back that up). It was painful to see Igbo parents who had better Igbo upbringing than I did, make the same mistakes my parents made in this day and age of identity seeking and promotion. I even noticed some parents expressing their displeasure when the DJ played strictly traditional "Egwu Ékpílí", because they considered it pagan, preferring their children danced to Igbo church music, or the explicit lyrics of "Phyno", the Nigerian hip-hop act that raps in the Igbo language.

The only tribe in Nigeria that seems to be doing very little in promoting the mother tongue, even in the homelands, are the Igbo. When I travel back home, which is almost frequently for several engagements, I see kids there trying to impress me with the English they learnt at "Nt'akala" classes, wanting to be like their Lagos-Igbo counterparts. Unfortunately, I do not know what we should do, besides bringing this to the attention of Igbos, so we begin to think of how to address this anomaly. I hope that when we have our first village meeting next year, that attention will be drawn away from the events surrounding the MC-ing at the end of year party, which I'm sure will be raised, and apportioning blame to whoever thought him a good idea howbeit for the first time in the history of such parties; to looking at the salient issue the MC raised and exposed, though in a rather tactless and uncouth manner, in a bid to redressing the shame. Ìgbò, E Kène Mu Únù!



Tuesday, December 20, 2016


It is not just enough to simply stave off the growing concern of public spirited Nigerians about the direction the anti-corruption war is going, following recent revelations involving members of President Muhammadu Buhari's sanctum sanctorium, dipping their hands in the national cookie jar, by claiming that it is corruption fighting back. In the past few days, and weeks before that, even those who believe that the senate is on a revenge mission against the presidency, in the recess of their minds wonder how it came to be that the one on whose shoulders rest, the investigation and prosecution of the corrupt, hasn't himself approached to equity with clean hands.

Even if they choose to close their eyes to it, the picture of the dying malnourished in the various Internally Displaced People's (IDP) camps in the northeast of Nigeria, mainly due to diversion of funds meant to ensure that such an outcome doesn't become today's narrative, by the secretary to the federal government via proxies, from irrefutable evidence not just as presented in the senate, or in the press, from whose eyes the scales appear to be gradually falling as regards their posture to this "saintly"  government, but even from reputable civil society, will make even the ardent supporter (though definitely not the incorrigible zombies, akin to the "walkers" in the walking dead), shudder to the bone.


Hence, the children that supposedly escaped death by the hands of Boko Haram, the funds of which was meant to decimate became frittered away by the past regime, now face death by starvation and malnutrition, after funds grew wings under a "puritanist" government supposedly elected to right the wrongs of the past.

The last straw that they seem to be hanging on, remain the so called incorruptibility of the god-hero, Buhari forgetting that this isn't the first time something like this will happen, seeing that if you consider when he chaired the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, or was military Head of State, or as Petroleum Minister, this is more like deja vu, where he rants like the loan voice "crying in the wilderness" against corruption, yet associates (many of which he  nepotistically enabled into high profile positions) of his with impunity perpetrate the same ills to high heavens, daring anyone to bat an eyelid. Unfortunately, this is one man that never accepts responsibility like Adam in "the fall of man", even when the buck naturally should stop at his desk, not just for present sins, but for past sins against Nigerians and their psyche while in power, in the corridors of power, even in seeking power.

There's no gainsaying that the lopsided anti-corruption war has hit a brick wall, as many of the opposition politicians who hitherto felt the heat as they were rounded off to detention and to the counts have now begun to find the whole exercise amusing, to the extent of posing for selfies while in detention,


after discovering that the whole process had been what they guessed it to be, a charade, with some of the crafty ones decamping to the ruling party to attain the sainthood that automatically accrues to members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC regardless of whatever type of corruption (and innocent lives that might have been lost by their actions and inactions) they might have committed either at state or national level, in order to have their cases at various levels of prosecution stalled and/or possibly stopped. The only ones not finding it funny, remain those with whom he has personal grouse, or whose people's quest for "self determination" he loathes with a vengeance, who despite courts of competent jurisdiction, locally and continentally, ruling to the effect that such "political prisoners" be granted bail, he continues to turn a "deaf ear" to.


Now, the renegades in the ruling party, once slated for slaughter, have now become favoured brides of the president and


presidency, whose listening "ear", he's no longer reluctant to lend, as the reality of 2019 dawns, without an attendant waning of and for the allure of power, even if it's just for the sake of bagpiper soldiers rising to almost every occasion at the whims of the handlers of the president,


even at times when their melodious presence are totally uncalled for. It doesn't matter if the ministers have performed woefully since assuming office, or availed themselves of the opportunity of a budget presentation to the joint sitting of the National Assembly, by their principal to "sleep",


or have provided much needed comedy (and embarrassment to the government, and country before the world) with their positions on issues, comments, statements, even turning the English language on its head, to Nigerians at a difficult time as this. The economy can go to hell, even the Naira that's speedily becoming toilet paper before foreign currencies can discover oil for all he cares, retention of power by all means necessary seems to be the byword of his party, with the "Independent" National Electoral Commission, INEC honing it's skills, with smaller but bloody and controversial elections (a reason a Buhari is now the last person Gambia's Yayah Jammeh is willing to listen to, as negotiations to persuade him to hand over power to his victorious opponent in the country's last presidential elections continues) in preparation for the year of the dog and baboon, as he seeks to destroy the ladder by which he ascended to power.